Archive for the ‘Charon Reports…’ Category

Commission on a UK Bill of Rights launched

The Ministry of Justice announced today that an independent Commission to investigate the case for a UK Bill of Rights has been launched today by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke.

The Guardian responded to this news with: Move for British bill of rights faces deadlock: “Government commission exploring the case for a British bill of rights is divided between human rights act supporters and critics”

The analysis in The Guardian is interesting – but I do wonder why we actually need this review.  As the Commission is unlikely to report for some time (2012?) we will have to wait to see if anything of real value comes of this.

Adam Wagner in The UK Human Rights blog has this to say….

Who are the Bill of Rights Commission “human rights experts”?

I am hoping to do a quick podcast with Adam Wagner soon to look at this and other topical human rights issues.

Lawyers…Have you joined Shpoonkle?!!!

Will it only be a matter of time before UK lawyers…. hyperventilating with excitement from the opportunities offered by twitter and other social meedja… get into Shpoonkle?

A New York Law School student has founded Shpoonkle, a playfully named website that allows attorneys and law firms to bid on legal requests submitted by clients. The service is free for now, but attorneys may be charged membership fees in the future.

Fortunately… a fellow blogger I respect has a strong view…

“On his New York criminal defense blog Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield said, “Any lawyer who signs up for this service should be immediately disbarred, then tarred and feathered, then publicly humiliated.” Calling the site the “eBay of lawyering,” Greenfield argues the service will lower the integrity of the legal profession.

RollonFriday.com…College of Law admits low recruitment qualifications

In an unguarded moment, the director of business development at the College of Law has admitted that only 60% of the institution’s students have a 2:1. So that means the CoL taking large numbers of students who don’t have the widely recognised minimum requirement for a training contract at the end of the course.

Read the full post….

The law schools are going to have to consider their position on taking on students who have no realistic prospect of being employed in the present market.  They won’t enjoy doing so.  This story is not going to go away.

LSB lacks understanding, judgement and willingness to listen, says Bar Council

An excellent article from Legal Futures

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has shown a lack of understanding and judgement, and an unwillingness to listen to the approved regulators, the Bar Council has claimed.

In a move that will fuel questions about the current role of the LSB, the Bar Council also expressed surprise at plans to increase LSB staff costs at a time of public sector cuts – saying it should take a “Big Society” approach to its work – and also questioned whether the board is overextending its remit….

Read the full article…

I will be doing a podcast with the Chair of The Bar Standards Board, Baroness Deech, in April – and regulation of the legal profession and legal education will be among the topics to be discussed.

The draft libel reform bill is a good thing

David Allen Green, writing in the New Statesman….

The draft libel reform bill, published two days ago, has had a mixed reception. Those in favour of libel reform have broadly welcomed it, though some do not think it goes far enough; and many established libel practitioners have sought to minimise the draft bill’s importance and novelty. Some libel veterans even say it will make no difference: it is almost as if they are discouraging the government from taking the draft bill forward at all.

However, as a practising media defence lawyer, I would say that there is a lot of good in the draft bill, and that if it were to pass into legislation in its present form it would make a marked difference to the nature of libel litigation. That is not to say that the draft bill could not be improved; but it is to say that it is misconceived and illiberal to dismiss the bill completely.

I am sure we will find time to discuss this bill in the Without Prejudice podcast this coming Thursday.

University threatens MP with libel case over Gaddafi criticism

Index on Censorship has a good report….

This is a rather interesting libel action… in the early stages. It is curious that a University, a public body, is suing an MP who was critical about their links with Libya?  The LSE took a lot of criticism last week about their ‘ties’ with Libya.  The Director of the school resigned – honourably.  David Allen Green’s firm Preiskel is acting… as this twitter post indicates.  Ironic in a week when the government is keen to reform the libel laws to stop institutions and people suppressing reasonable and public interest  criticism by using our libel laws?

Preiskel Preiskel & Co LLP 

by DavidAllenGreen
We are instructed to defend Robert Halfon MP against libel threat by Liverpool John Moores University re criticism of Libyan commercial ties

It is not all bad news for lawyers and laws schools… The Daily Mail reports: 

Oxford graduate who sued college for after it ‘failed to prepare her for exams’ loses bid for £100,000 damages

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I wrote this ‘restaurant review’ pastiche three years ago and remembered it while I  was tweeting about bloggers being sued for doing dodgy reviews with @BillfromBendigo in the wake of Duncan Bannatyne’s complaints about one of his hotels getting a poor review ( which I wrote about yesterday).

I thought I’d dig it out again…. I remember the restaurant which inspired it…. to this day! As it happens, I did three real restaurant reviews for LawandMore some years back.  Enjoyed doing them.


A Bar & Dining Room
Somewhere in London
Meal for two with wine: £90
Nil points


“Have you booked?” asked the black silk shirted Maitre D’ guarding the entrance. The abruptness of the greeting took me by surprise.

“I have not booked. Do you have a table?” Blackshirt’s eyes narrowed as he flicked open the diary. The page had one entry. Blackshirt looked up, eyes darting. “How many of you are there?” It may seem to the casual observer that I suffer from dissociative identity disorder, but I was alone. I heard Sir Alec Guinness in the recess of my mind: “Charon” he said, “Use the Force….”

“I am one.”

The Maitre D’ surveyed the dining room. It was that sort of place… Not a restaurant, but a Bar and Dining Room. It was 12.30. Only two tables were occupied. “Do you smoke?” Blackshirt snapped.

“For England.” I replied.

I was escorted to a table in the corner of the room – a table for two. An East European border guard, dressed as a waitress, appeared with a menu. I selected a bottle of Claret and asked for two espressos and a glass of tap water, no ice. “You want espresso?” the waitress asked, unsmiling. “Now?”

“Yes please.” I watched her walk towards the bar. Well it was more of a march… more Red Square than Sandhurst. I was not invited to taste the wine when it arrived.

The menu was fairly typical of many gastros – a mix of “Confu**tion cooking” with a bit of thai/vietnamese nonsense thrown in. I enjoy reading Anthony Bourdain… but his books, do on occasion, get into the wrong hands… and so it was, today. Couscous and polenta featured heavily. One day I am sure that I will find a gastro pub with a dish called “Irish tagine”.

A couple were seated at a table nearby – both late twenties, both City professionals. I know this because they managed to tell me, indirectly, by relating events to each other of their successes during the week. They talked at each other; he admiring himself repeatedly in the mirrors lining the walls on our side of the restaurant. They obviously knew each other well – at least one assumes so, because, later, declining the offer of pudding, they started eating each other.

I have no idea why nutters on trains, tubes, buses and restaurants gravitate towards me – but it happend again today. The East European border guard escorted another customer to the adjacent table – a man in his early sixties, blazered, highly polished Oxford shoes, grey trousers, Turnbull & Asser shirt, silk tie and a traditional ‘British’ haircut. One could almost smell the George Trumper cologne.

“Good day to you.”

“And to you.” I replied.

“Writer?” the man asked, pointing at my laptop. I learned long ago not to answer that question.

“Just doing a bit of surfing.”

“Surfing Eh?…. yes… I used to surf when I was a junior partner with X&Y in Hong Kong…. on trips to Australia…. tied up a few M&A deals, I can tell you… out there…. those were the days…”

God in heaven. I know I drank a bottle of cider in Church once when I was at Prep school… but I had no idea, then, that I would continue to be punished for that sin nearly 40 odd years later on Easter Sunday 2007… in the form of a retired City lawyer, from the days of Tai Pan, sitting at the next table.

“Really…? good stuff.. ” I replied, affably, but with what I hoped was the correct tone to indicate that I wished ‘to be alone’. It was too late to pretend I was Bulgarian and could not speak English.

So there I was… a couple of young professionals, but a few tables away, talking at each other and Mr Drone, to my right.

“Been to Church?”

I was looking intently at my laptop screen. The words appeared to come from above. I looked at the ceiling. I looked at my bottle of Claret. I had only had one glass.

“The Vicar had a few of us back for a glass of sherry after the service”


“Yes… quite a few actually. Have to splice the mainbrace after sitting through all that without being able to charge fees at the end of it! ” a statement which provoked so much laughter from the speaker that I was concerned I may have to do a Heimlich manoeuvre on him.

“Oh Yes… Vicar did us a good sermon today…”

Mr Drone told me at length that he would have been in New York to advise on a merger but the US firm had ‘cocked up’ on timing… adding that he liked to take on important cases on a consultancy basis from time to time…


I drained my glass, re-filled and lit a cigarette.

“Smoker Eh?…yes… used to smoke until the Doc said to me ‘My dear chap, unless you pack in the gaspers now you won’t be able to get it up when you are 65′.” Another burst of self satisfied laughter, gave me the opportunity to wave at the waitress and explain to the gentleman seated at the next table that I needed to concentrate on my work. He made a curious signal, tapping his finger against his nose and said “Got it…Roger… mustn’t stop a chap from his work “

“You are ready with your orders?”

I smiled at the waitress, trying not to look as if I had something to declare, and ordered a main course. I justified my lack of a first course, when questioned, by explaining that I may have a pudding. She seemed satisfied with my explanation and marched off.

It takes a rare talent to cook roast lamb badly, but only inhalation of super strength cannabis would suggest beetroot risotto and chilli jam is a sensible, or even suitable, accompaniment to lamb. The waitress looked at my plate, barely touched. The lemon meringue pie had the merit of being bought in. The wine was more than drinkable and, after negotiating my release without the aid of the Foreign Office, I returned to familiar surroundings.

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I was amused by the recent edition of Private Eye (15 October) which began…

DAVID “We’re all in this together” Cameron has chosen a patriotic bunch to sit on his “business council”

The Eye article then stated that Martin Sorrell of advertising group WPP has moved his company offshore to avoid tax. Paul Walsh of drinks company Diageo has threatened to do the same. … and, of course, Sir Philip Green…giver of advice to governments on cuts and waste, has arrangements with his wife in Monaco.
All this is, of course, within the rules…. but it is ironic when the mantra of the day is “We’re all in it together”…. when, so obviously, we are not quite ALL in it together.  There are, of course, many millionaires in the current Cabinet..and it would appear a fair few millionaires or potential millionaires (when their books come out) in the Shadow Cabinet.

I don’t have any problem with businessmen and women making money – they are the lifeblood of our country – and the small businesses do also add up to employ a substantial number of people.  I just wish they would call a spade a spade.  I believe that a fair few entrepreneurs like Alan Sugar and Duncan Bannatyne (who I have been a bit caustic about recently on another matter which has, thankfully, blown over) prefer to stay here!  Full marks to them.

I hope the private sector can mop up the public sector redundancies.  There will be a fair number of talented people – so there are genuine opportunities to attract good talent?

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Two young men, early thirties – probably Tories, in Camclegg chic suiting sans tie and hair by Geo.F.Trumper,  walked by as I was having a glass of wine and an espresso at the Riviera cafe in Battersea Square at lunch today. I was at Table 14 – where I often sit.  It gives me a good view of the comings and goings should The Times or The Sun not have sufficient to hold my interest.  One of the men went into the cafe bar.  The other stood outside.  The glass at the cafe bar is reflective and this young man made good use of its properties.  As David Blunkett said of Lord Mandelson today –  “He fell in love with himself at an early age” would be a most apt aphorism to describe the young man’s admiration of himself.  I have seen more preening from the young women who stride by in their dance leotards from The Royal Academy of Dance but 100 yards up the road.

I moved to Battersea in February. I am right on the river.  In fact, I could almost ‘tombstone’ into the Thames if I was as spirited as the 75 year old Major whose antics I read about in The Sun this morning.  The ex-Major, at the age of 75,  decided to jump off a 40ft cliff into the sea for amusement.  Unfortunately he ‘hurt his bits’ after a bellyflop and had to be rescued and flown to hospital. A spokesman for HM Coastguard remarked “You’d think he would have known better”.  Full marks, Major – you get my vote. Bravo!

I digress, as I often do.  I like Battersea – rather more colourful and eclectic than Chelsea where I lived on a boat near Battersea bridge for five months before escaping to the Medway last year.  Battersea Square is a bit of a misnomer:  It is more of a triangle. A dry cleaner, a Lebanese cafe, a hairdresser (Metamorphosis by name) a cool bar and an Indian restaurant, wonderfully named  The Battersea Rickshaw, make up one part of the triangle.  The Riviera cafe and a road leading down to a private school makes up another and the third side of the triangle is a road leading to a place called Wandsworth and the territories of the middle class professionals in Putney, if one walks far enough and the Thames footpath.  In summer the Square is packed with a mix of people.  Trees are many and the stylish lampposts are festooned with flowers in various shades of pink in brown baskets. Thomas’s school is down the cobbled lane.  4x4s proceed one after the other – mostly Audis, Range Rover, Lexus, with the occasional Porsche 4×4 – otherwise it is estate Audis and Mercs.  Few normal cars seem to be deployed to deliver the sometimes precocious children to their lessons.

On some mornings, the Mothers, having delivered their children, meet for a Latte or Cappucino. If you are into ‘Yummy Mummies or MILFS (and I am not) – you would get neck ache.   I have excellent hearing, developed over 25+ years of teaching law and  trying to discern the signals of intelligent life in tutorials where sometimes, it has to be said, the students were a bit like Ingerland in the Worldcup – not very good and underprepared, hungover or simply not up to it.   No… I am joking.  I had a great deal of pleasure teaching law students who were all pretty good and some particularly talented.  I just fancied a curmudgeonly digression.

I was having coffee the other morning when a group of women met at a nearby table, having delivered their little darlings to the care of the teaching staff. They obviously knew each other through the school.  They didn’t come across as a group of old friends.  I didn’t detect any Sex and The City frisson either.   It surprised me how competitive they all were – and much of it done with a rictus smile.  Without generalising overly – there is a big difference in the style of conversations where men meet other men and women met women.  The women tend to listen more and wait their turn.  The bollocks quotient is also rather lower, I have found, with groups of women.  Nevertheless, on this particular morning – the blood was running, the competition was GAME ON as they vied to outdo each other on their forthcoming holidays – abroad, naturally – and I discovered that ‘James‘ had both an iPhone and a new iPad and ‘simply couldn’t live without it’.  There was a very brief discussion on local ‘hice’ prices – ineluctably. When the conversation of the women turned to politics – Cameron will be relieved to note that newly Tory Battersea is firm.  I’m afraid to say that the conversation was fairly ‘right wing’ – much talk of asylum seekers, ‘prison should be harsh’,  public servants have had it too good for too long, Labour is a ‘disgrace for spending all our (husband’s) money and hanging of chavs should be brought back as a recreational activity .  OK… I exaggerate on the latter.  They did not say that.  I was, however,  expecting Paul D’Acre, Editor of The Daily Mail to pitch up as the guest speaker at the gathering.

The days are varied in The Square – but there are some constants. A group of businessmen – who are extremely amusing – meet regularly for coffee – each with their iPads or laptops and talk. Sometimes one of them does most of the talking.  I know who he is, but do not know him  – a friendly  guy and he can be very funny. It is a bit difficult to not hear, given the proximity of tables.  It is a great place – not achingly trendy, not achingly pleased with itself – quite the opposite – it is a very friendly welcoming place.  I shall stay until Christmas.  Then I shall escape and go somewhere else.

Well… there we are… just fancied writing  a few observations on another part of London I like.  Man cannot live by Law alone.

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I rose today at 3.30 am, as I do every day.  It was dark outside. The sun here does not dare venture out much before 7.00. There was an eerie silence…always a sign that something is about to kick off.  When I went to bed last night…. Iain Dale and Yasmin Alibai-Brown were sparring on BBC News 24.  I had to agree with Iain Dale’s assessment of that minor skirmish… it was 1-1

BUT… this morning… it was different… there was blood on  the walls….

The Ranting Penguin came through first on my dongle… I knew then…. that this was but the start of a very, very,  hard day in British politics…

Things are so bad in South Wales that even the Chief Constable cannot go down to his local Tesco to buy Coco Pops without fear of an attack by the Oldgitsban.. a  ‘proscribed’ group of elderly people who terrorise supermarkets on a Saturday and monitor the internet… when they could shop during the week….. just to annoy the middle classes who have to shop on Saturdays because of their own duties working for banks, estate agencies and…some say… law firms, the ‘meedjahuddin’ and advertising agencies.

I do not know who the Ranting Penguin is… all I know is… that when I see a feed from the blog… things are going to kick off and it is time for me to get the ‘kit’ on….

I read this story in The Telegraph… keeping an eye out for roaming gangs of Oldgitsban.…it is well known that this group of elderly insurgents rise early….get up at unusual hours… and are monitoring ‘communications’ on Twitter and in the blogs… I am grateful for their efforts… these people, without thought of reward… watch our liberties…watch our rights…

Being an ’embedded reporter’…. I do have to take instructions from the military… but… I can tell you… on this occasion… as I got out my laptop….even the local Brigadier was happy for me to report on what must be the STORY OF THE FIRST COUPLE OF HOURS OF SUNDAY MORNING BEFORE ANDREW MARR COMFORTS US ALL WITH HIS GROUND BREAKING PAP SHOW… The Andrew Marr Show – possibly the most trailed (advertised) show on the BBC?

I almost wept, as I saw the reports in the MAIL ON SUNDAY… about Tony Blair asking..

‘Find me some obviously sick children’

Some things are just so bad… that it is difficult for even a hardened blogger to report… and it is at times like this that I am glad we have the the Mail on Sunday to dig deep… as a ‘tribute’ to them… it is best that I let them take up the story…and let you…. decide on the ‘realpolitik’ of the matter…

BUT… it got worse… Gordon Brown had a secret stash of money…. the records being kept in an old exercise book.. and Brown seemed to spend a lot of time scheming to become prime minister… a position which he has held with exquisite lack of success, earning the soubriquet of being Britain’s worst prime minister…and he didn’t even start a f**king war…

The MAIL on SUNDAY… has the story

This is Charon…reporting from the front line…. I’m only sorry that there is no SNOW… I would have enjoyed doing the weather forecast and helping the people of Britain understand just how BAD…snow is… anyway… have a laugh… if you can…. as you read the latest revelations from Peter Watt, former (and very pissed off) General-Secretary of the Labour Party.


Transparency declaration: Charon has voted Labour for nearly 30 years. This does not make him a war criminal.

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Charon Reports on the Geert Wilders affair…

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, barrister, writer, ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog about the (possibly)  unlawful exclusion of Geert Wilders.

Wilders has been excluded under regulations 19(1) and 21 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, which faithfully copy out and implement the requirements of article 27 of Directive 2004/38 on the rights of EU citizens to move freely.

Listen to the podcast report with Carl Gardner



BBC Any Questions Radio 4: David Davies MP speaks on Free Speech issue – says Government wrong to ban Wilders.
(At about 28 minutes in to the 50 minute programme)

No sign, as far as I can see (yet) of Liberty response. Will continue to look.  If anyone finds a response before I do – please put comment in and I’ll publicise Liberty response.

Podcast version for iTunes

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Listen to Podcast 99: Bonfire of more vanities…Charon reports…

Yesterday the Select Committee in The Commons grilled the HBOS and RBS mob and ran amok to great effect; illiciting expressions of ‘profound and unreserved regret’…. with one exquisitely groomed and suave titled banker saying that he could not ‘be more sorry’.  All this is well covered by the BBC and others and I referred to it yesterday.

Today, Prime Minister’s Questions was a cross between Richard III and a Brian Rix Farce. Gordon Brown shuffled to his feet in a manner, to me at least, as if he was reprising Olivier’s introduction to Richard III… “And now is the winter of my discontent made gloriously worse by this ex Chairman of HBOS…”

The saga began when The Daily Mail alleged that Sir James Crosby (adviser to Gordon Brown and knighted by Brown for services to Banking) when head of HBOS, sacked senior manager Paul Moore for raising concerns the bank was open to too much risk.  The BBC reports ” Sir James, who led HBOS from 2001 to 2006, said there was “no substance to the allegations” But Paul Moore said he stood “firmly and confidently” behind his allegations against Sir James.”

With absolutely no ministerial contact whatsoever, apparently,  between Downing Street and The Financial services Authority this morning, Sir James Crosby threw himself onto his sword and resigned as deputy chairman of City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) – conveniently, before Prime Minister’s Questions at 12.00 today.

The BBC’s Maven of Mavens on Economic Matters, Robert Peston, said that he “understood that Sir James had stood down to protect the FSA from controversy.”

The BBC  report states: “The Treasury told the BBC it was Sir James’ personal decision to resign from the FSA”  This of course, is almost guaranteed to send the slavering hacks into a frenzy of “But was he pushed?” speculation and so it proved today on the BBC’s Daily Politics show presided over by Andrew Neil.

David Cameron, fresh out of the oven as Pillsbury Doughboy incarnate, launched into the Prime Mentalist with the fervour of a hunstman on Boxing Day trying to find a fox to slaughter;  accusing the Prime Minister of incompetence, lack of judgement, failing to get his facts right and, noting that the Banking mobsters had apologised, for not having the decency to do likewise for mismanaging Britain. All good stuff… allowing sundry front benchers from both sides to nod wisely, laugh, roar, nod their heads vigorously or, in Harriet Harman’s case do her Nigella Lawson impersonation and smile seductively, but meaninglessly.

The story became even more amusing when it was discovered that Sir James Crosby had been Chairman of HBOS and Deputy Chairman of the Financial Services Authority for some time at the same time, prompting Andrew Neil to the inevitable comment that this was tantamount to putting the lunatics in charge of the asylum.  There was much huffing and puffing by Hazel Blears and the Chairman of the Tory Party, Eric Pickles – with Pickles even asking Andrew Neil if he knew about the conflict of interest and had complained about it at the time.  Farcical, really, but ineluctably British… and hey.. look on the bright side…. if these banking mobsters had pulled this stunt in China they would probably be shot at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing.

Finally… let’s go over to the Maven of Mavens, Robert Peston on why Sir James Crosby resigned…

I can barely wait for more revelations and developments on this sorry saga – but turning now to another form of vanity – the vanity of The Home Secretary and her expenses claim.  Well… it all turns out that she has done absolutely nothing wrong, everything is above board, the complaint has not been upheld and Chief Political pundit from the BBC Nick Robinson hyperventilated on the Daily Politics show  today that the truth of the matter is…. that she was telling the truth and has not broken the law… so there we are… another storm in a second home tea cup.  She is, therefore, fully entitled to continue to be a hapless Home Secretary and spend the next year of her time as Britain’s worst Home secretary in recent years – an opinion I am still entitled to hold even under this government, until Team Brown face the flaming torches of the electorate when Brown has no option but to call an election.

And finally, if you haven’t already seen this and want a laugh… have a look at this excellent nonsense from The Onion…Sony Releases New Stupid Piece of Shit That Doesn’t Fucking Work..


Listen to Podcast 99: Bonfire of more vanities…Charon reports…


UPDATE 11th February 7.30 pm

Email from David Cameron (To all who signed up for the original WebCameron)

Dear Charon,

This morning we learnt that Sir James Crosby had resigned from his position as Deputy Chairman of the City watchdog – the Financial Services Authority. This was because of an allegation made about his time as Chief Executive of HBOS. A former employee claims Sir James Crosby sacked him for saying that the bank was taking on too much risk.

Why is all this so important? For three reasons. First, because it raises questions about Gordon Brown’s judgement. Sir James Crosby is one of his trusted economic advisers and the man he put in place to oversee the regulation of our banks. The turn of events now shows Gordon Brown’s misjudgement in putting him in such an important role.

Second, it raises questions about Gordon Brown’s character. In the House of Commons today, I asked the Prime Minister to apologise for getting this judgement call wrong. But, as ever, he refused. Be it for claiming to end boom or bust, failing to regulate our banks, or now this, the Prime Minister is simply unable to admit when he’s got things wrong – so I don’t believe he can be the man to put things right.

And third, it raises questions about the way this Government works. The immediate events leading up to Sir James Crosby’s resignation are still not clear. Was it his decision? Or was he pushed in order to make life easier for the Government? Whatever happened, I suspect this will not be the last of the resignations we see to save this Government’s political skin.

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